Everyday adventure: Rebellion
I recently went to an exhibition on Mod culture at a museum, a spur of the moment thing when it caught my eye. Looking at the vintage photos and seeing the original Mods who were reuniting there (sideburns now completely grey or gone altogether), it brought back a lot of vivid memories of being a teenager. Memories of counter culture and rebellion, and the feeling of being outside the norm and challenging the status quo. A deep feeling of excitement at the thrill of it.
With hindsight, that wasn’t really the reality but that was how it felt. For a while, in those exuberant years when you think you’re bending the world to your will, it felt like I was sticking it to 'the man'.
And isn’t it the feeling that matters most of all? My feeling was like that of most rebellious teenagers, the feeling of not following the beaten, traditional paths but instead stepping into something more adventurous. The fact that there were actually safety nets and guard rails doesn’t matter, to me it felt like danger.
In those formative years, we’re explorers by nature. We’re trying things out, trying them on for size, pushing the boundaries. We try out hairstyles, jokes, clothes, music, films, books, drugs, sex… Not all of these things are healthy or advisable but it’s the process of discovery and experimentation that leads us to become who are – or at least lay the foundations for that.
Yet, as the years pass and responsibilities accumulate, we start to settle into patterns, influenced, often unknowingly, by what is expected of us, what we should be doing. At what point do we stop trying routes away from the path we’re told to take? And why?
I met a close friend’s grandad a few years ago. Well into his eighties, he was one of the most engaging people I’ve ever met. Over the course of a few beers, he peppered me with questions about my work. An engineer by trade, he’d recently taken an interest in economics, even sparking up a dialogue with people in the Treasury. He asked me questions about the latest trends and tech that I barely knew, his mind as sharp as glass. A little later, I asked him how he stayed on top of so much knowledge. “Never stop trying new things, I suppose” he said bashfully. And mischievously snaffled another beer.
The lesson I took was simple. Keep being curious. Try things out. Dare a little. A bit of rebellion adds spice to life.